I desire differently now. Hard to tour bodies or buildings. Perhaps I will spin like a whirligig, feel body lag a second behind my tight-wound mind.
Shortly after my return your presents arrived. For the child, a photo album: Ceylon devil dancers; the Tibetan walls of Kampa Dzong; the temples of Angkor Wat; cliff ruins in Betatakin. I recall the last. I was there too.
You shoot one cliff three days running, always at dusk when the sun runs blood then cools to chalky blue. Of course, you don’t shoot in color. The shades you crave are wordy shades of gray. But I remember. I keep the reds, plums, the blackening blues, keep them painting the crumbled white cotton of your broad back, shoulder blades poking through like bird bones when you take aim. Then the camera falls to your side. I see the swell of your belly. You catch my gaze and are not pleased.
Yet you sent me presents too. A letter, really a witty travelogue on your devoured worlds, and a blank journal and on its sleeve: “charming very charming.” You too once wrote but your medium changed by the time you turned to me. You photographed. So instead of reading of my demise I watched its development across a hundred proof sheets: Robbie with brace, with cane, Robbie before and after your eyes moved from passion to pathos to assessment, to other worlds, other men.
I will not write of my ending days but only of your travails with my poor travel-logged heart. Remember how? Remember when? I know you will appreciate subject and pretense, will not be fooled. For we long ago unearthed the source of us: drawn to vanishing light, focused on undoing, on surfeit ruins, mysteries known, and still forgiven.